Posted on March 9, 2011

School Apologizes for Elementary ‘Slave Auction’

WBNS-TV (Columbus), March 3, 2011

A central Ohio school district was apologizing on Thursday after an elementary school Social Studies lesson turned into a mock slave auction.

Nikko Burton said during an American history lesson at Gahanna’s Chapelfield Elementary School, the class was divided into slaves and masters, 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker reported.

“I ended up being a slave,” said Burton, 10. “At first I didn’t care, but after people were bidding on people it kind of made me a little mad and stuff.”

Burton said that the students who were playing the part of master were told to feel the students playing slaves to see if they were worth buying.

“The masters go to touch people and do all sorts of stuff,” Burton said. “They got to look in your mouth and feel your legs and stuff and see if you’re strong and stuff.”

Burton’s mother said that her son was humiliated.

She complained to Gahanna-Jefferson schools. School officials declined to comment but did issue a statement that said, in part, “As soon as the concern was brought to our attention, school officials acted promptly to speak with the parent.”

“He felt degraded, he was hurt and the kids picked on him later,” Aneka Burton said. “I feel like that was totally inappropriate; it was racist and it was degrading.”

A district spokeswoman said the slave auction was part of state required curriculum and that it was a one-time lesson.